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Private Label BOTL01

Formed as long ago as the late 60s, Boys Of The Lough were the best, having, amongst many others, Aly Bain, Robin Morton, Dick Gaughan and Dave Richardson, as members. But throughout almost 50 years, it has been founder member Cathal McConnell who has been ever present. They have produced approximately 20 albums over that time, the most recent (in 2009) being a collaboration with other musicians, and before that the previous real “Boys” CD was about 10 years ago.

But this isn’t a history lesson! It’s about the newest line-up and the most recent offering, The New Line. I am going to resist the temptation to compare with what has gone before. So who is in the band now?

Let’s start with Cathal, who plays amazing flute and whistle and sings in his own style on three of the tracks, adding real humour to Delia Murphy’s Boston Burglar. Brendan O Beaglaoigh sings the CD’s other songs in Gaelic; one about a mother lamenting the loss of her son to Protestant ideas, and the other a love song. He also plays accordion and melodeon, providing the drive to many of the tunes. Garry O’Briain gives sympathetic accompaniment on guitar and keyboards, at his best on the air section of the Mary Stokes set. Kevin Henderson, known for his work with too many bands to mention, completes the stellar line up. Incidentally, I think it was Kevin who had to fill the gap when Aly moved on - brave or what!

It was like a breath of fresh air listening to the Boys’ music again. There are no frills, just great playing, which comes from many years’ experience, a love of the music and a real enjoyment in playing it. They are honest and respectful to those who have gone before but not frightened to move it forward. I hope a new generation of both players and audiences takes notice and discovers the Boys Of The Lough, and that many of us old folkies listen to The New Line and realise the band is still a major player.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.